Prodrive starting converter programme

June 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

The key component of an electric-drive powertrain which everyone’s talking about right now is a DC-DC converter. This converts direct current from one voltage level to another, ie from its generated state to a voltage for storage in batteries, and from the batteries to a level for driving the motor, keeping performance constant. In hybrid and electric vehicles, this also includes the function of handling electricity generated by brake-regeneration systems, so the converter has to work two ways.

Until now, cars like the Prius have needed two converters, explains Prodrive’s technical specialist Pete James – one for the motor and another for the car’s 12-volt electrics. However, Prodrive is developing a single weight- and space-saving integrated flexible unit converter which will work with devices including fuel cell stacks and supercapacitors.

Partners in the programme include the University of Manchester and the Tata Motors European Technical Centre; the project is supported by the government’s Technology Strategy Board. A driveable demo car with the technology is promised in three years’ time, with the system making production in 5-7 years.

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